Regulatory reform in the 118th Congress: The Regulation Reduction Act of 2023

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Federal regulations will continue to grow, if the Biden administration’s recently published Unified Agenda is any indication. It lists 3,666 new rules currently in the approval process. Federal rules and regulations stifle economic activity by raising costs for businesses, and cost the U.S. economy an estimated $1.9 trillion per year.

Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) has introduced H.R. 3175, the Regulation Reduction Act of 2023, to reduce this heavy regulatory burden. She introduced the bill earlier in May and recruited 19 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. There is not yet companion Senate legislation.

The Regulatory Reduction Act requires federal agencies to repeal two or more regulations for every new regulation issued and three or more regulations for every new major rule. The Regulation Reduction Act is similar to the ERASER Act which has been introduced in the Senate, but with a few differences.

In particular, the bill would:

  • Require federal agencies to repeal two regulations before issuing a new regulation;
  • Require agencies to repeal three regulations before issuing a new major rule; and
  • Require each agency to submit a report including “a review of each rule of the agency that identifies whether that rule is costly, ineffective, duplicative, or outdated.”

Rules being repealed to pass a new rule must be related to the new rule if possible, and new major rules cannot cost more than the rules being repealed. The bill applies to all rules that impose a cost or responsibility on private individuals, state governments, or local governments, but does not apply to rules that are meant to decrease regulatory burdens or compliance costs.

Overall, the bill would be a good step toward shrinking the oversized regulatory state. The requirement that new major rules must cost less than or equal to the rules that are being repealed ensures that the total regulatory cost with regard to major rules does not increase. The bill does not apply to new rules which decrease regulatory burdens, so beneficial rules would not be made more difficult to approve. By requiring agencies to submit a report identifying costly and outdated rules, the bill would make it easier to eliminate particularly wasteful regulations.

Unlike the ERASER Act, which requires that three rules be repealed for every new rule, the Regulation Reduction Act requires that only two rules be repealed for every new non-major rule. Additionally, the requirement that new rules cost less than or equal to the rules being repealed only applies to major rules. This would allow new non-major rules to cost more than the rules being repealed, which could allow an increased overall regulatory burden despite a smaller absolute number of regulations.

While the Regulation Reduction Act of 2023 could use some improvements, the bill would still make much-needed progress in reducing the excessive regulatory burden placed on American businesses.

This post is part of an occasional series looking at regulatory reform bills in Congress. Previous posts cover the REINS ActGOOD ActLess Is More ResolutionArticle I Regulatory Budget ActALERT ActSeparation of Powers Restoration ActSmall Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, and the Regulatory Accountability Act